The single most important contribution our Judaeo-Christian heritage has made to human existence is the concept of one God who is creator, sustainer, and the ultimate destiny of our lives. In theological language, this is called monotheism. The opposite of this concept is called polytheism, or the belief in many gods.
This concept prevailed until the time of Abraham who introduced the idea that there was only one God to whom we owe our existence and our allegiance.
The Greeks believed in many gods. They had a god for everything and every aspect of human behavior. For instance, Zeus was the king of all the gods. Dionysus was the Greek god of wine and intoxication. We could go on and on with their gods and over what sphere of human life it was believed they had authority.
The Greeks also thought the human body was totally evil and irredeemable. Therefore, they believed that it didn’t matter what you did with it or to it.
It was against the backdrop of this idea that St. Paul wrote the words, “Your body is the temple of God.” (I Corinthians 6:19) He wanted them to see the human body not as some evil thing with uncontrollable urges and impulses, but to see it as a gift from God to be taken care of and treated as a sacred vessel.
Now we need to hear this as Black men. Too many of us neglect our bodies and as a result our health. Stress causes us to drink and smoke too much. Machoism causes us not to have our prostate checked. Bad eating habits and failure to exercise cause us to have too much high blood, diabetes, and heart problems.
We need to capture Paul’s idea that our bodies are sacred and that we need to take care of them as though we’re taking care of God’s Temple.
In so doing, we will live longer, healthier, and more fulfilling lives.